Postcolonial Speakers’ Series 2015-16

 Wednesday 7 October 2015 – 1pm – Dr. Cornelia Grabner, Lancaster University
MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

‘Situations and Events: Intensifications of State Violence in Mexico and the Poetics of Resistance’

Within the past year, state violence in Mexico has intensified, and these intensifications are reported as escalations in the Global North. In this talk I will explore some of the background of these in densifications, our ways of understanding them, and possible responses from the perspective of cultural and literary studies.
I start the talk with an analysis of the current intensification of violence in Mexico, drawing on approaches by Nelson Maldonado Torres, Walter Mignolo, and Pilar Calveiro, and clarifying my own use of Judith Butler’s ‘precarious life’ and Achille Mbembe’s ‘Necropolitics’ when referring to different targeted populations in Mexico.
The second part of the talk outlines the methodology of the poetics of resistance, and integrates Lauren Berlant’s distinction between situation and event into this methodology. I do this through the analysis of two case studies: a public event organized by the poet Mirtha Luz Perez Robledo after the assassination of her daughter, the activist Nadia Vera Perez, on 31 July in Mexico City; and the case of the 43 students of the teacher training college in Ayotzinapa.

Wednesday 21 October, 1pm, Dr. Corinne Fowler, University of Leicester
MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

‘Landmarks: Literary Interventions into Britain’s Postcolonial, Post-Industrial Spaces’

This paper focuses on writing associated with two AHRC projects: landmark poetry in Manchester (‘Moving Manchester’, 2006-2009) and commissioned writing about Leicester (‘Affective Digital Histories’, 2014-2015). The devolution of literary culture provides an important context for understanding writers’ creative interventions into Britain’s postcolonial, post-industrial spaces. Concentrating on landmark aesthetics and non-commercial literary forms, I will consider writing’s role as ‘public record and public art’, to use Deirdre Osborne’s words (2011: 199). Such writing counters urban gentrification and raises the profile of people whose lives rarely register in official accounts of post-industrial spaces. SuAndi’s poems are inscribed onto metal discs along Manchester’s Ship Canal Centenary Walkway. Located near the BBC Media City and its associated luxury dwellings, her poems remind pedestrians that the docks once facilitated violent global commerce. The Manchester-based landmark poems of SuAndi and Lemn Sissay visibly counterpoint the city’s post-‘90s malls, restaurants and bars. Social geographers argue that Manchester’s upmarket recreation zones actively exclude impoverished locals (Mellor, 2002: 230). In 2014, the ‘Affective Digital Histories’ project commissioned eight pieces of writing for an app called Hidden Stories about former industrial sites in Leicestershire. Divya Ghelani produced a flash fiction sequence called ‘An Imperial Typewriter’, while Irfan Master wrote a two-act play called ‘For the Love of Something’. Both pieces are set in a district that has been transformed into the Cultural Quarter and celebrated as an urban success story. The writing highlights Leicester’s postcolonial heritage and explores the varied architectures of racism and belonging. Taken together, Leicester’s Hidden Stories and the Manchester landmarks urge people to take counterintuitive routes through the local histories of postcolonial cities.

Wednesday 4 November, 1pm, Dr Laura Blackie, University of Nottingham

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

The Process of Post-Traumatic Growth in Fostering Agency and Activism among Survivors of the Genocide in Rwanda

The experience of trauma can profoundly change and alter the course of an individual’s life. Historically this has been investigated in relation to the deleterious physical, social, and psychological consequences that individuals experience. However, in recent years, research has begun investigating when overcoming a trauma can have a lasting positive impact on the individual’s identity, relationships, and worldviews. These positive changes, known as post-traumatic growth have been observed in response to a range of traumatic events including extreme forms of adversity such as war and genocide. I will present an analysis of a sample of survivors’ testimonies to determine how post-traumatic growth is expressed among Rwandans, and the extent to which these positive outcomes can be considered a form of personal agency and activism. Specifically, I will discuss how three outcomes of post-traumatic growth in this population – a shift in identity from victim to survivor, a responsibility to survive, and altruism born of suffering – create a sense of unity and social responsibility among survivors.


Wednesday 11 November, 1-3pm,
Film screening and Discussion with filmmaker Perivi Katjavivi
CTLP11, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS
Perivi John Katjavivi is a Namibian filmmaker and writer. He is an MA graduate in African Cinema from the University of Cape Town. He will be discussing his films and filmmaking in an informal seminar discussion setting with NTU students and staff.

Vimeo Showreel:


Wednesday 18 November, 1pm, Dr Kehinde Andrews, BCU
MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

Blackness, radicalism and activism

‘There’s a new kind of negro…he calls himself a Black man’ – Malcolm X.

A hallmark of the Black radical tradition is the construction of Blackness as a revolutionary identity of belonging. The embrace of Blackness was a political statement rejecting the gradualist approach to social change for racial justice. To be Black, was to be proud and committed to transforming the conditions in our communities. Blackness as a political statement is important as it takes the physical manifestation of difference as the basis for activism. It is our Blackness that connects us together, and importantly works as the bridge to those across the Diaspora. The Diasporic connection means that Black activism cannot solely be concerned with solving problems on the nation state level but demands we connect into the struggles across the globe. Blackness can serve as the basis for a unity that brings about resistance to Western imperialism, if we return to the roots and politics of the idea.

Wednesday 2 December, 1pm, Dr Robbie Shilliam, QMUL

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

‘Africa in Oceania: Thinking Besides the Subaltern’

In this presentation I will focus on the challenges and prospects of retrieving anti colonial connections between colonised and postcolonized peoples, specifically the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific and the peoples of the African diaspora. To what extent the figure of the subaltern helps us in this “sideways” endeavour? In addressing this question I shall draw out some implications for methodology that take on political salience in terms of decolonizing knowledge production in the western academy.


Wednesday 20 January, 1pm, Dr Maxim Bolt, University of Birmingham

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

‘Mediated Paternalism and Violent Incorporation: Enforcing Farm Hierarchies on the Zimbabwean-South African Border’

Paternalism and violence on South African farms have been famously intertwined. In a kinship idiom, fatherly white farmers confer ‘gifts’ on black workers, their ‘people’. This discretion maintains the conditions for racialised violence. But, on the Zimbabwean-South African border, mass-migration and globalized agriculture give paternalism and violence new significance. The Limpopo River is a setting of transience, mass unemployment and short-term strategies of making do. This is the backdrop of recruitment on the border’s export-oriented crop estates. Resident workforces become settings in which people strive for a provisional permanence. Meanwhile, white farmers negotiate liberalised markets, the vagaries of South African land reform, and minimum wage and housing legislation. Keen to perform a corporate style to state officials and international supermarket representatives, and to maintain flexibility amidst uncertainty, they downplay paternalist responsibilities and retreat from their workers’ everyday lives. Senior black male workers are left as central figures of a mediated paternalism. Arbiters of a highly gendered farm order, they hold court, invoke vigilante justice, and call on the coercive power of state-employed border guards. As workforce hierarchies incorporate transient people, they reconfigure paternalist dependence and produce new forms of overt and structural violence, whose ultimate terms continue to be set by increasingly distant white farmers.

Wednesday 24 Feb, 1pm,  Dr Ross Forman, University of Warwick

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

‘A Reel Turn-of-the-Century Uprising: Representing China’s Boxer Rebellion in Film and Theatre, 1900-1915’

Although less known than other imperial conflicts such as the 1857 Indian Mutiny and the turn-of-the-century Boer War, the 1900 Boxer Rebellion marked a turning point for Britain both politically and in terms of representation.  Seen as a vindication for earlier losses and pyrrhic victories in imperial landscapes and as “an object lesson to the Chinese mind” for its resistance to modernization, the Boxer Uprising—as it was also called—provided a rallying point for pro-imperial sentiment.  It also presented the case for China to dragged into a more directly colonial net.  Perhaps as importantly, it was also one of the first wars after the invention and dissemination of motion pictures.  This paper considers how and why the seemingly distant events in “far Cathay” were made immediate and significant to British and American audiences.  It offers a survey of some of the films the Rebellion engendered and has a special focus on impresario Imre Kiralfy’s China, or the Relief of the Legations, which took centre stage at his 1901 Military Exhibition at Earl’s Court in London.

Wednesday 16 March, 1pm, Dr Simon Faulkner, Department of Art, Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

Constructing Pallywood: Photography, veracity, and denigration in Israel/Palestine

The term ‘Pallywood’ has been used since the mid-2000s to refer to the purported fraudulence of certain images of Palestinian suffering and resistance produced in the context of the Israeli occupation. The term adapts the movie industry name Hollywood to suggest that images of the Palestinian experience are being produced on a similar industrial scale and with a similar degree of fictionalisation. Pro-Israeli bloggers and social media users currently apply the term to images they feel have been staged in some way to exaggerate or even manufacture spectacles of Palestinian suffering. The term is also applied to situations where such observers think that complicity exists between Palestinians and media workers in the production of such images.

Examples of what might be described as the discourse of Pallywood denigrate images of Palestinian suffering and resistance as untruthful. This is usually achieved by decontextualizing these images from their relationship to the occupation. The focus of this discourse when it comes to images of resistance in particular is often upon the immediate circumstances under which these images are produced rather than on broader causal conditions. This paper seeks to explore the traits and effects of the discourse of Pallywood in relation to a number of photographic examples, including Israeli photographer Ilia Yefimovich’s widely published photograph of stone throwing Palestinian boys being run down by an Israeli motorist in Silwan (East Jerusalem) in October 2010, Italian photographer Ruben Salvadori’s 2011 project Photojournalism Behind the Scenes, that also deals with protests in Silwan, and images of the attempted arrest of eleven year-old Mohammad al-Tamimi by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in August 2015.

Dr Simon Faulkner is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at Manchester School of Art. He is currently working on a long-term project on relationships between visual culture and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has recently published the book Between States with the Israeli artist and activist David Reeb (Black Dog Publishing, 2015) and is a member of the Visual Social Media Lab that is developing research on social media images:

Wednesday 13 April, 1pm,  Dr Alberto Fernandez Carbajal, University of Leicester

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

‘Between Gang and Family: Queering Ethnicity and British Muslim Masculinities in Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil

This paper on My Brother the Devil (2013), written and directed by Sally El Hosaini, a British filmmaker of mixed British and Egyptian heritage, will explore its depiction of multiethnic British youth in contemporary London. Filmed partly during the 2011 London riots, and focusing on the relationship between two British brothers of Egyptian heritage living in East London, Mohammed (Fady Elsayed) and Rashid (James Floyd), the paper will suggest that the film tackles intersecting issues of ethnicity, religion, national identity, gender and sexual orientation in a manner that disorganises mainstream expectations about British Muslim youth. The Muslim brothers’ rootedness in Hackney, it will be argued, avoids nostalgia for a lost homeland and cements a highly located sense of belonging in the postcolonial metropolis, particularly through their membership of their multiethnic youth gang, which allows them freedom from the familial expectations of their first-generation diasporic parents. The paper will illustrate how Rashid’s same-sex relationship with a French Arab, Sayyid (Saïd Taghmaoui), starts ‘queering’ British and European ethnicities in a manner that challenges ethnic absolutism and dominant Western views on Muslims and homosexuality. In the face of the youth gang’s problematic conjoining of masculinity, violence, and criminality, it will be suggested that Islam provides competing versions of Muslim masculinity that gradually relinquish violence and prize empathy, while also resisting normative Western mainstream views on Muslim women as invariably repressed and gender-segregated. Finally, the film’s dealings with queerness will be shown as challenging normative constructions of masculinity and as offering a rejection of homonationalist models of sexual orientation that prescribe cultural assimilation and sexual fixity to the West’s alleged ‘Others’.


Wednesday 20 April, 1-3pm, Dr Ulla Ratheiser, University of Innsbruck

interactive research workshop – special session

MAE019, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

Of Warriors and Soldiers: Explorations of the ‘Noble Warrior’ in Contemporary New Zealand Literature and Culture

Not only because New Zealand once more demonstrated its dominance in world rugby in 2015, it sometimes seems a ‘better version’ of Britain, thousands of miles away in the South Pacific. And yet, despite being a loyal Dominion, the small island nation strongly attempts to validate its independent, postcolonial status, by proudly promoting a demonstrable New Zealand literature, which in fact reaches far back into pre-colonial times.

A recurrent trope in literary and cultural productions in Aotearoa that ostentatiously tries to bridge pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial times is that of the noble (Māori) warrior. Interestingly enough, it features prominently not only in a Māori context but is also employed by the Pākeha majority as a means to establish a distinctive New Zealand identity. This research seminar will try to explore in more detail the roots of the warrior image, its relevance in a (post-) colonial framework and the backlash it may create in an attempt to create or enforce agency.

Wednesday 27th April, 14:00-15:00
Event led by Dr Carina Hart (NTU) and Sofia Aatkar (MRes English Literary Research).


MAE101, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

There will be informal talks and discussion about what it’s like to work as a researcher on project on crime and the postcolonial in Australian fiction.This event follows on from the research project led by Dr Beth Driscoll at the University of Melbourne on C21st Australian Crime Fiction.

Monday 9th May,  14:00-14:30

Norma Gregory, Nottingham News Centre

New Hall Block Lecture Theatre 7 / 090, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

Norma Gregory visits NTU to discuss her current research project on black miners in Nottinghamshire with students on Jenni Ramone’s module, Black Writing in Britain. All are welcome to attend the first part of the session to hear the guest speaker. Students will write short opinion articles inspired by debates and texts discussed on the module and/or by Norma’s research talk, in the second part of the session, 2:30-4pm – all welcome to this second part, too.

Wednesday 11th May, 1-2pm, Veronika Schuchter, University of Innsbruck

‘Finding Permanence in Transit – Alternative Constructions of Travel(s) in Contemporary Women’s Writing’

MAE101, Mary Ann Evans building, Clifton Campus, NTU, NG11 8NS

Abstract tbc.